Women in business: Farida Kabir
Farida Kabir is a public health scientist, software developer, UI/UX designer, public speaker, trainer and tech entrepreneur with a passion for infusing health with technology. Founder and CEO of OTRAC, an elearning software for African healthcare practitioners, she’s also the team lead for Google Women Techmakers Abuja and the co- organizer for Google Developer Group, Abuja.
A strong advocate for women and girls in STEM, Farida is also a passionate advocate of good governance and strong institutions. She’s currently the Federal ICT adviser for DFID-PERL program, a five-year project that focuses on strengthening government institutions and increasing citizen participation.
In 2016, she was the only Nigerian amongst five Africans that was awarded by the French President, François Hollande, in recognition of her pioneering entrepreneurial strides in Health Technology.
Her life is all about mentoring and guiding young entrepreneurs especially Lady Techpreneurs across Northern Nigeria; this informed the mandate that she advances through Center for Strategic Enterprise Development (CSED).
OTRAC’S e-learning platform provides tailored trainings/courses for public and general Health practitioners. Their vision is to build a learning platform that supports continuous development of all Health practitioners, and enhance their capacity and knowledge for effective service delivery.
One of the highlights of Farida’s tech career was when the Abuja Google Developer Group (GDG Abuja) announced her as their team lead for Google Women Techmakers. Google’s Women Techmakers program provides visibility, community, and resources for women in technology and according to her, what this means is that, Google will be supporting programs to encourage more women to get into the STEM field, and also lend a helping hand to those already in the field.
For Farida, the Government really needs to do an overhaul in how knowledge is being imparted in our schools. She says we need strong policies to ensure STEM is practised across all tiers of education and most importantly, women that have an established career in STEM need to reach out to the younger ones to mentor and guide them to success.
For her, this is like a chain reaction, if you mentor a young girl and she becomes successful, she’ll mentor the next person, and the next person will do same and it goes on.
“Before you know it, we have an army of strong and powerful women that can stand and compete anywhere in the world.” Farida says.
As the assistant team lead at Mentally Aware Nigeria the Abuja Chapter, Farida says one way they try to combat the stigma associated with mental health in Nigeria is through sensitization and awareness.
According to her, “Over the last two years, we’ve attended conferences and panel discussions to address this. We also go to schools to sensitize the students about the fact that just because their classmate was admitted in a psychiatric home doesn’t mean they are mad. A lot of Nigerians don’t understand that the same way we worry about our physical health is the same way we need to take cognizance of our mental health.” Says Farida.
For her, it’s a part of the whole human health in its entirety. Because, according to her, “Sometimes all you need to do is just reach out and ask how someone is doing. You really might not know the suicidal thoughts you might have prevented. Not all the time give me this, help me with that, I need money for this and that.”
Farida has had various people tell her the tech space isn’t for women and many have discouraged her outrightly however, that never deterred her from her goals because she dared to believe. Today, like they say, the rest is history.
Though Farida was recognised by the French President as one of the innovators changing the dynamics of health education, she however humbly admits she did not achieve that on her own but with the support of her husband and mentor, Ahmed Tanimu.